Northern Fury reviewed on Sea Lion Press

This is considerably after the fact, but I figured I’d point it out anyway: Northern Fury: H Hour got an excellent review on Sea Lion Press.

As a partial aside, I’ve said it elsewhere but I’ll say it here-I have a renewed willingness to read and review “traditional” World War III stories. Part of that is quality books in the genre like Team Yankee, Red Army, and yes, Northern Fury: H Hour.

The Best Pitcher You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

Chicago White Sox pitcher Ed Walsh…

  • Holds the all-time records for lowest career ERA and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, designed to determine how good pitchers are at preventing balls from getting in play)
  • Holds the AL and post-1900 MLB records for most innings pitched in a season (464 in 1908). That’s a lot of innings.
  • Won the 1906 World Series against the Cubs.
  • Had a Sandy Koufax-style trajectory of burning out his arm when still fairly young (all those innings might have something to do with it)
  • Was elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame.
  • Had one of the creepiest smiles of any baseball player.

The Scale Of Poor Champions

Ted Williams and many other Hall of Famers never won a World Series. Herb Washington, a bizarre (and ultimately unsuccessful) experimental “designated runner”, did, although he was partially responsible for the A’s only loss in that series by getting picked off at first in the ninth inning.

The largest group of less-than-ideal champion players are simply bench/low-level players who just happened to be on a championship team. Little needs to be said about them except that they got lucky in that circumstance. (Robert Horry is perhaps the king of these players-he managed to win more championships than Michael Jordan while being only a decent journeyman stats-wise.)

Then there are the players in starring roles who, while not absolute flops, are still less than ideal. The king of these players is Trent Dilfer, the man who won a Super Bowl thanks to his team’s defense and then got cut. “Honorable” mentions include all the starting centers on the Bulls and Warriors dynasties and many of the pitchers on the 1920s Yankees.

 

Four Assists

The career of Yinka Dare is worth noting for one number.

Four.

His 100+ game, four season career contained that many assists. A leading soccer player gets that many in one season alone. Now to be fair…

  • Dare played few minutes and almost always only played in blowouts.
  • “Bigs” at the time didn’t have that many assists.

In comparison, Darko Milicic in his rookie season, same general role, same general drawbacks, had… seven assists.

Two Sports Similarities

There are a weird number of coincidences between the 1926 World Series and 2016 NBA Finals.

  • Both were seven games and down to the wire.
  • Both featured the first championships for a Midwestern franchise that had a long-time record of flopping around (Cardinals and Cavaliers).
  • Both featured a defeat of a fledgling mega-dynasty (the “Murderers Row” Yankees and “Death Lineup” Warriors)
  • Both mega-dynasty superstars dropped the ball in some fashion in Game 7. (Babe Ruth controversially tried to steal second with two outs and failed[1], while Steph Curry missed his last two shots.
  • The later successes of the mega-dynasty make those mistakes seem less consequential.

[1]The opinion on how wise this was ranges from “Ruth, while not Rickey Henderson by any means, was faster than a lot of people gave him credit for, and thus it was a justifiable gamble to not have to need two hits with two outs” to “Ruth was statistically the worst base stealer of all time.”

T-72-120

The T-72-120 upgrade explains how tank development can pass the point of diminishing returns. It’s a Ukrainian upgrade of a T-72 to have a bustle autoloader for a 120mm NATO tank gun along with the usual advanced electronics. There was a very similar variant of the T-80/84 called the “Yatagan” as well.

t72120

While it looks impressive, it’s easy to see why this tank sputtered out.

  • In exchange for for somewhat safer ammo storage (which is still in a scrunched-up Soviet tank) and a 120mm caliber gun, you have to redesign and rebuild the entire loading system of the tank. The cost-benefit isn’t the best.
  • The post-USSR tank glut doomed it just as easily as it doomed almost every other design of the period. You want a 120mm tank, you get a surplus Leopard II.

That being said, I like the look this tank and the Yatagan had, this sort of “east-west fusion” of low-slung tanks with prominent ERA and long bustle turrets.

The Truck-APC

One of my weird current fascinations is the “Truck-APC”, for lack of a better word. This is an armored personnel carrier built on the platform of an existing truck. One of the first widespread truck-APCs was the BTR-152.

Since that ZiS-151 with armor rolled across Red Square, there have been many, many, many vehicles of that nature. It’s undoubtedly easier for smaller and/or lower budget firms to make something where much of the “heavy lifting” has already been done by someone else than a clean-sheet design. I’d have to say one of the more unusual (or my favorite) truck-APCs is the kind where the front part is just an uparmored pickup truck, but an “APC-like” troop compartment is placed in the bed.

A reason I think the truck-APC has come to prominence in my mind is the kind of books I read. The truck-APC is more suitable for security forces than it is for higher-end armies squaring off against IFVs. Guess what the small-unit action-adventure novel protagonist is more likely to face?

USMC Divisions in World War III

So, a RAND study on the (sideshow) southern theater of World War III included this graph.

Notice how low the USMC divisions are placed. Even the WP bottom-of-the-barrel Romanians outdo them. I have my quibbles with this kind of “Battle of the spreadsheets” system, but a look at the USMC’s force structure, especially at the time shows that they were not suited for this kind of mobile continental war.